I blame the change on the sun. It’s light out longer and people are up later, outside more, generally more relaxed. We eat outside. Walk, run. Finally see people who were buried in snow drifts all winter. Maybe we get our hands in the dirt or our feet firmly on the ground.
The world—the outdoors, natural world—calls us to notice with warmth and light and color and sound. Showy pink peonies, bright red poppies, the insects calling at night, the trees tuning up before a storm . . .
We’re called outward at this time of year. Called to be out of our houses and offices, notice the outdoors, feel the world through our skin. How does that affect our ability to listen within? Honestly, being outside is my greatest lens for looking inward. This is where I hear God, the Mystery, something beyond myself.
Noticing ourselves in the context of the bigger world can help us get quiet. The crickets and cicadas aren’t nearly as distracting as, say, the constant stream of social media. The small we feel on the top of a mountain or under a giant sequoia or looking at the oceans or a vast plain is very different than the small we feel from the voices around and inside of us saying “not enough.”
So, this time of year, we shift from inside to out (which ultimately brings us inward). We change pace and rhythm, just like the cycles of the natural world.
I tend to think of summer as vacation time. Call it a throwback to being in school and being married to a teacher. Summer was a break from classes, sleeping in. A different rhythm. Even today, summer has a different tempo. But is it slower or more frenetic?
I love the idea of lazy summer days, but are they real? For any of us?
Think about the parties and barbecues, the fireworks and festivities. You want to get to the beach or pick berries, camp or cook out. You’re hustling to get away or trying to catch up when you’re back (the laundry, the weeds!) Summer fills up fast. What boundaries can you set up to have a summer that feels expansive, not oppressive?
Summer offers a host of opportunities to connect with family, neighbors, and friends, but that doesn’t mean you need to say yes to every invitation. It doesn’t mean you can’t set up expectations for house guests. It may mean putting away devices and focusing on the people in front of you. Or loosening your hold on expectations of how things should be or how they will go. And it may mean opening up a little wider to say yes to possibilities.
These are things you can decide. Not just in summer, but every day. What do you want—and need—from this season? What can you do to be part of summer, to flow with it rather than be swept away by it?
Summer is just starting (we don’t even welcome it for realsies until a few weeks from now). How are you going to use the warmth of this season to loosen and open and go deeper into yourself?
Stop for a minute, step outside. Get still. Listen. What is this summer going to look like for you?